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Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes from Williams-Sonoma

28 Feb

In honor of IHOP’s National Pancake Day, I decided to review one of my favorite pancake mixes. Yup, that’s right folks, Mrs. Dish Dash Dime isn’t always making things from scratch, I’m just always trying to make things yummy and easy. And this recipe couldn’t be an easier or tastier way to celebrate such a carbo-laden day.

Sometimes, I like a little help in the kitchen. That’s where Williams-Sonoma’s Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Waffle & Pancake mix make my life a bit easier. This flavorful blend of spices has become a favorite in this household.

The directions are straight forward and simple. Combine the mix with butter, eggs, and milk to make pancakes or waffles.

For me, I wanted to make a small batch of pancakes for my hungry hubby. To make the smaller batch, I combined 1 cup of mix with 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1/2 cup of skim milk, and 1 egg, separated. I separate the egg because I fold in the egg white at the end.

The recommended portion on the mix makes 9 5-inch pancakes, using 2 1/4 cup of mix.

I used a whisk to add some air to my egg white to give the batter a light and fluffy texture.

Then combine them with a batter blender, being very careful to not over-beat. The egg white should be gently added in as a last step. The smell of the batter should be heavenly at this point.

Heat a skillet to medium high and spray with vegetable oil. Carefully pour out whatever size pancakes you desire. I like smaller ones because they are easier to flip. But if you have a griddle, make those giant ones and flips away.

The pancakes are ready to be flipped when bubbles form and stay. Be sure to watch the heat on the pan. Too high and they’ll cook too fast to cook all the way through. Too low heat, and the texture will turn out funny.

Enjoy them plain, with warm maple syrup. For non-maple syrup connoisseurs, my hubby prefers blueberry syrup or plain. Apple preserves would also make a great topping. Or for a desert, make Belgian waffles with the mix and top with vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce.

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Superbowl Extravagaza: Simply Potato Skins

4 Feb

So I wanted to make potato skins as one of my appetizers. I had them at a restaurant about two weeks ago and thought, “how simple is this recipe?” I decided to re-create potato skins for the Superbowl in the most effortless way possible. There are ways to make this recipe more gourmet, and take longer, but I honestly was going for quick and simple in this easy appetizer. Did I mention that this version has fewer calories than your restaurant favorite, too?

You’ll yield two potato skins for each potato. For two of us, I made 8 skins, and we devoured them all, as part of a dinner.

First, bake the potatoes using either the oven or microwave. Either way, scrub them beforehand. Unlike other recipes with potatoes, you’ll actually eat that skin, so make sure its nice and clean (without soap, of course!). Then rub them with olive oil. They’ll need about five minutes in the microwave, or about an hour in the oven, at 400 degrees. Don’t forget to poke them with a fork before you use either method.

When the potatoes are finished baking, slice them in half. Let them cool a bit before you start digging out the insides.

Using a pot holder, I carefully removed the insides of each half, leaving about 1/4 – 1/2 inch in every skin.

Then place your potatoes on a cookie sheet, or in my case, a piece of my favorite stoneware.

In a normal recipe, you would stick these back in the oven with additional oil and salt too. But to avoid the extra time and fat, I went straight for the cheese.

I didn’t want to have a heaping mound of cheddar on the skins, I first added some sour cream to the skins, so they wouldn’t come out too dry. I use fat-free sour cream – definitely one of my favorite fat-free foods!

Then on top I added a sprinkling of cheddar cheese.

At some point while making this, I discovered that I didn’t have bacon. So I substituted with some finely diced ham. I first gave it a quick fry in the pan before adding it to the potatoes.

And then into the oven they went for about 15 minutes at 350.

These potato skins are best served immediately. I also topped them with green onions and served them with a side of sour cream.

FREE: The Man Cave Cookbook – Kindle Edition

1 Feb

The Man Cave Cookbook is the essential guide to cooking for The Man Cave, whether you’re hanging out solo or entertaining a crowd of Cave Buddies for the big game.

Packed with more than 150 recipes for mouthwatering breakfasts, lunches, dinners, soups,chili, stews, snacks and desserts that are quick and easy to make.

Step-by-step instructions make it easy to crush it in the kitchen – even if you have no cooking skills whatsoever.   Impress your Cave Buddies.  Even better, impress the wife or girlfriend!

You’ll be ready for the next big game (or any other Man Cave event) ’cause the Man Cave Cookbook’s got your back.

Inside the Man Cave Cookbook, you’ll get man-pleasing, mouth-watering, belly-filling recipes, like:

  • Beer-n-Bacon Nuts
  • Motown Honey Wings
  • Mustard & Beer Dip
  • Fritos Trail Mix
  • Bacon Cheddar Waffles
  • Cajun Breakfast Casserole
  • Waffle Sausage Sandwich
  • Brats In Beer
  • Gridiron Heroes
  • BBQ New York Strip Steak
  • Fast Chicken Gumbo
  • Spicy Pork Burgers
  • Man Cave Mac-n-Cheese
  • Tater Tot Casserole
  • Bourbon Cheesecake Shots
  • Frozen Butterfinger Casserole
  • Twinkie Pudding
  • PLUS MORE!

INCLUDES:  The Man Cave Cooking Resource Guide – your road map to cooking terms, abbreviations and more to boost your Man Cave Cooking Skills!

The Man Cave Cookbook is great for anyone who wants to CRUSH IT IN THE KITCHEN- eat good food, make it really fast and keep it simple.

The Man Cave Cookbook.  It’s Man Cave Food for Man Cave Men.

Sears: Bedding Sets for $19.99

11 Jan

Need to get some new linens for the guest bedroom?

Hurry on over to Sears.com today and grab a bed set for only $19.99. Pick from any size – King, Queen/Full, or Twin for the same price. Limited availability so make your decision quickly! Choose to pick up at your local store or select the free shipping option.

Product Description

Super soft Microfiber comforter adds color and softness to any bedroom. Set includes Comforter and Sham(s)

  • 100% Polyester
  • Easy Care
  • Machine washable
  • Twin comforter in size 66×86 and one standard sham 20×30.
  • Full/Queen comforter in size 86×86 and two standard shams 20×30.
  • King comforter in size 100×90 and two standard sham 20×36.

Staples: $3 for 12-pack of Sharpies

7 Jan

Awesome deal for crafty or organizational freaks like me!

Staples has a 12-pack of Fine Point Sharpie markers on sale for $8.00 + free shipping. Once you checkout, a $5 off coupon will automatically be applied, bringing your total for $3.00. With tax, I’ll be getting these markers for $3.29 shipped.

And just in case you need a reason to buy this colorful pack of markers, you can use them to tie-dye, personalize your sneakers, and more (like cover up gray hair strands!).

Making a Healthy(er) Pumpkin Pie

5 Jan

Pumpkin Pie and healthy aren’t two words that typically go together well. Pie, in it of itself brings on feelings hefty calories. But for me, I must have pumpkin pie this time of year. So I did a lot of searching a couple of years ago, and came across a recipe from Hungry Girl. Surprising to me, pumpkin is actually a great food if you’re watching your waistline.  It’s naturally very low in fat and also rich in vitamins and minerals. It’s the eggs, sugar and thick buttery crust that adds all the extra fat, calories, and ups your sugar intake to keep you up into the wee hours of the night – after your turkey coma, of course! So next year when you get that hankering for a sweet, creamy, pumpkin pie, try this alternative.

Combine pure pumpkin (not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling), evaporated fat-free milk, splenda (sometimes I use half sugar, half sugar substitute, and other times, I use full sugar), and egg whites. I use egg whites instead of the egg substitute since I don’t care for products like that. Then add the syrup, pumpkin pie spice, and salt to the mixture. The mixture will appear very thin, but don’t worry.

And now…the crust debate:

Hungry Girl uses a crust using their popular secret ingredient, ground up fiber one cereal. However, I don’t care for the consistency, so I use ready-made pie crust from the store. Its convenient, and no-fuss. I know its going to bake right and I like it for those reasons. However, when I made this pie on Christmas Day, I forgot to bring the crust over to my parent’s house. In two years, this was the fifth pie I had made there and was use to the ingredients I needed to bring and the ones my parents had on hand. Whoops!

I discovered this mistake on Christmas Eve, so we had planned to go to the store in the morning. Nothing was open when hubby went – he checked five different stores, four different shopping areas — only Starbucks was open (haha!). So my dad decided to surprise us and make a crust. While all the women in the house were out of the kitchen, he tried his hand at his first ever pie crust. You see, my dad is the number one fan of this pumpkin pie. I think he likes it better than any full fat, gourmet, restaurant, or even…yikes…Costo’s pumpkin pie! I was skeptical since my dad is a steak guy – and a great steak guy at that. Put him on the grill, making potatoes, or gravy, and it will taste amazing. Pastry chef? Not so much. Here’s what he turned out:

And into the pie shell went the pumpkin pie mixture. For reference, this dish is a 9 inch pan.

We’ve learned to time this with eating dinner and put the pie in when the holiday meat of choice (turkey, prime rib roast, etc) comes out of the oven. The pie takes about 45 minutes. We let meat rest for about 20 minutes. And take out the pie towards the end of our meal. By the time we’re ready for dessert, pie has been cooling on the counter for about an hour. Although Hungry Girl recommends chilling in the fridge for several hours or even overnight, we indulge ourselves in the pie within two hours of it coming out of the oven.

The reason for the bubbles on the pie is because of the crust. The crust wasn’t too bad – just a simple sweet pie crust. Maybe one of these days I’ll experiment with a healthy pie crust too? Remember to refrigerate the leftovers. This pie serves as a great breakfast the day after as well…!

So is this a healthy pumpkin pie – you do the math:

Regular Pumpkin Pie
Serving Size: 1 slice
Calories: 400
Fat: 18g

Hungry Girl’s version (with fiber one crust)
Serving Size: 1 slice
Calories: 133
Fat: 3g

My version of Hungry Girl’s version of Pumpkin Pie (estimated)
Serving Size: 1 slice
Calories: 200
Fat: 6g

Recipe Lovers:

For Filling
One 15-oz. can pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
One 12-oz. can evaporated fat-free milk
3/4 cup Splenda No Calorie Sweetener, granulated
1/2 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters)
1/4 cup sugar-free maple syrup
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
Optional Topping: Fat Free Reddi-wip

What’s in the Slow Cooker?

5 Jan

I just love leaving work on the days that I have dinner in my slow cooker. There is an element of surprise for me when I walk through my garage door and take in the initial scent that fills up my entire house. I don’t think I’ve ever actually followed a slow cooker recipe. I just think about what kind of food and flavors sound good, and into the crock pot it goes. This day was no different.

I got these chicken leg quarters on sale at Bashas for $0.97/lb for a total cost of $4.47. I love getting these kinds of packs on sale because they always last for more than one dinner, and they’re always cheaper than buying boneless skinless chicken breasts (which sale cycle is much more rare than bone-in chicken). If the bone is in, generally, into the slow cooker it goes.

I began by adding one can of 98% fat free chicken broth to the bottom of my slow cooker. In order for your slow cooker to work properly, you need at least a 1/2 cup of liquid down there. Otherwise you’ll end up with some dry-charred-shoe-leather skin, not to mention awful clean up duty!

Next, I carefully sliced most of the skin off of the legs. No need for the extra fat, right? This was a pretty easy process considering it was my first time butchering the skin like that. After that, I added equal parts of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and pepper. I then gave each a sprinkle of sea salt. And into the crock pot they went. Two were on the bottom, pretty much marinating in the chicken broth, and two were on top, which meant they would get a nice crispy skin.

I had about two seconds until I absolutely needed to get in the car and go to work. So I grabbed an onion, quartered it, and added that to pot. Hubby and I love onion – I put it in everything! But please adjust to your own tastes.

And then this. my friends, was my surprise when I  got home. I call it a surprise for a reason. With the crock pot, you can’t really test it or taste it as you go along. Raw meat goes into a container for 7-8 hours on low and you hope that something edible comes out of the container when you return home.

Today was a wonderful, delicious surprise. I carefully pulled the chicken out of the slow cooker, trying hard to keep them intact as the chicken was falling off the bones.

I put a small pot on the stove to make some jasmine rice using 3 parts water and 1 part chicken broth from the slow cooker. I had some leftover spinach that was about to expire, so I also sauteed some spinach with butter, olive oil, and garlic as another side dish.

Important thing to note about spinach. This huge bunch is really only one small serving.

And finally, we were ready to eat. My husband’s patience for photographing food is decreasing by the day…

For the record, I got home at 5pm, took pictures, made rice and spinach, served and ate dinner, and we were back out the door at 5:45, with about 10 minutes of relaxing to spare. Now that’s what I call a weeknight meal!

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